Nathan’s advice to me today: “Write about a happy childhood memory that has impacted who you are today.”
There was a brief period of time during my childhood when my dad would answer the phone like this:
“Hello, this is Amy’s proud father.”
Since I am not an only child, he would insert Brian’s name half the time.
I tried it once. I answered the phone, said my lines about being Brian’s proud sister and promptly dissolved into giggles. I can tell you, for sure, that didn’t have a positive impact.
I was older than I am in this photo, but it gives great context. My dad grew up in the baby boomer generation. He went to college, served in the navy, got married, wore striped polyester pants, and bought a house with wood paneling and shag carpet.
I don’t know how often his dad spoke words of affirmation over him. My guess is “not often.”
By God’s grace, I won’t say the same.
We went through different stages of encouragement from Dad. There was a time when he would leave notes by our places at the table. I would wander into the kitchen for my cream of wheat (with lots of brown sugar) and find a paper with my name on it.
Several years later, the day he dropped me off at college, he said, “It’s a great day for the Hennings. It’s an even better day for Crown College.”
In 2012, when Nathan and I decided to move from Minnesota to Tennessee, my dad offered to help us out by driving one of our vehicles. He drove the van that held our dog, Max, and all of our stuff that hadn’t fit in the moving truck. For hours, Dad and a howling puggle drove down the interstate listening to Neil Diamond.
On Nathan’s first day of work, my dad stood in the parking lot with us and prayed for Nathan. He told him, again, he was proud of us. Nathan walked through the doors to his new job and the rest of us hopped in the van and headed to the airport. We said goodbye putting 894 miles between us.
The kids and I cried as we drove away from the Nashville airport. Dad had tears, too. We were breaking his heart and he was still telling us he was proud.
In April, when we told my dad Nathan was resigning from his job, without having one lined up, my dad told him he was proud.
I’m 43 and he still regularly reminds me that he’s proud of me.
For all the difficult conversations and awkward growing pains of learning to have a relationship with my dad as an adult, I’ve never had to wonder if he was proud of me. I wish everyone could say that. Maybe you can’t, but if you have kids, one day, they might sit down to write about something they remember from their childhood.
They might remember your favorite music. They might recall your funny clothes and hair. I hope they remember the times you were proud of them.